Research Areas

Interdisciplinary and international population research


Prof. Dr. Dr. Monique M. B. Breteler
Prof. Dr. Dr. Monique M. B. Breteler
Director of Population Health Sciences

To support the development of prevention strategies for neurodegenerative and other age-related diseases, we conduct quantitative, empirical research.

To this end, we focus on identifying the causes and causal mechanisms of a disease in order to derive targeted measures that can delay or prevent the onset of a disease (aetiological research). We also focus on identifying people at risk (risk prediction).

Most age-related diseases occur as a cumulative result of different combinations of damaging as well as protective and strengthening factors. What determines resilience remains largely unexplored. Therefore, in addition to studying pathophysiology, we also aim to better understand normal (brain) physiology and variation, and how this changes throughout life. In order for us to understand what determines people's health, we need to study people: That's why most of our research takes place within the Rhineland Study. This prospective cohort study was designed and initiated to achieve our key research objectives. Our epidemiological approach is highly interdisciplinary and methodologically, as well as technologically, state-of-the-art. In data collection, we focus on deep phenotyping and incorporate new technologies and basic research findings into our studies at an early stage. In data analysis, we work with computational data scientists and statisticians to develop and apply innovative methods to our high-dimensional and multimodal data.

We are financially supported by the Competence Cluster "Diet-Body-Brain (DietBB)" of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Cluster of Excellence "ImmunoSensation" and the Collaborative Research Centre "Metaflammation" of the German Research Foundation (DFG).



We are investigating the influence of diet and other lifestyle factors on brain cognition and health, and the possible underlying mechanisms. This is closely related to our research on the composition of the gut microbiome in relation to brain performance, as well as our research on the role of infections, chronic inflammation and immune status in ageing and disease development.

Biomarker research and risk prediction

We use advanced imaging techniques to non-invasively collect information on brain structure and function to develop biomarkers. In addition, we use high-dimensional multi-omics data to derive (blood-based) biomarkers for risk prediction and stratification. Collaborations in this area exist with several groups at DZNE and the University of Bonn.

Normal physiology and ageing

We investigate the role of stress in health and disease, the relationship between sensory organs and brain structure/function, biomarkers of ageing, and conduct pharmacoepidemiological and pharmacogenomic research.

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